The distress of Moab pathetically described by the son of the prince, or ruler of the land, being forced to flee for his life through the desert, that he may escape to Judea; and the young women, like young birds scared from their nest, wade helpless through the fords of Arnon, the boundary of their country, to seek protection in some foreign land, 1,2. The prophet addresses Sion, exhorting her to show mercy to her enemies in their distress, that her throne may be established in righteousness, 3-5. Exceeding great pride of Moab, 6. The terrible calamities about to fall upon Moab farther described by the languishing of the vine, the ceasing of the vintage, the sound of the prophet's bowels quivering like a harp, , 7-13. Awful nearness of the full accomplishment of the prophecy, 14.
Notes on Chapter 16
Send ye the lamb, Both the reading and meaning of this verse are still more doubtful than those of the preceding. The Septuagint and Syriac read eshlach, I will send, in the first person singular, future tense: the Vulgate and Talmud Babylon, read shelach, send, singular imperative: some read shilchu, send ye forth, or shalechu, they send forth. The Syriac, for car, a lamb, reads bar, a son, which is confirmed by five MSS. of Kennicott and De Rossi. The two first verses describe the distress of Moab on the Assyrian invasion in which even the son of the prince of the country is represented as forced to flee for his life through the desert, that he may escape to Judea; and the young women are driven forth like young birds cast out of the nest, and endeavouring to wade through the fords of the river Arnon. Perhaps there is not so much difficulty in this verse as appears at first view. "Send the lamb to the ruler of the land," may receive light from 2 Kings 3:4,5: "And Mesha, king of Moab, was a sheepmaster, and rendered unto the king of Israel one hundred thousand lambs with their wool, and one hundred thousand rams: but when Ahab was dead, the king of Moab rebelled against Israel." Now the prophet exhorts them to begin paying the tribute as formerly, that their punishment might be averted or mitigated.
Take counsel-"Impart counsel"
The Vulgate renders the verbs in the beginning of this verse in the singular number, So the Keri; and so likewise sixty-one MSS. of Kennicott's and De Rossi's have it, and nineteen editions, and the Syriac. The verbs throughout the verse are also in the feminine gender; agreeing with Zion, which I suppose to be understood.
Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab-"Let the outcasts of Moab sojourn with thee, O Zion"
Setting the points aside, this is by much the most obvious construction of the Hebrew, as well as most agreeable to the context, and the design of the prophet. And it is confirmed by the Septuagint οι φυγαδεςμωαβ, and Syriac.
The oppressors-"The oppressor"
Perhaps the Israelites, who in the time of Ahab invaded Judah, defeated his army, slaying one hundred and twenty thousand men, and brought the kingdom to the brink of destruction. Judah, being now in a more prosperous condition, is represented as able to receive and to protect the fugitive Moabites. And with those former times of distress the security and flourishing state of the kingdom under the government of Hezekiah is contrasted.
In mercy shall the throne be established
May not this refer to the throne of Hezekiah? Here we have the character of such a king as cannot fail to be a blessing to the people. 1. "He sitteth on the throne in truth"-He does not merely profess to be the father and protector of his people: but he is actually such. 2. He is judging. He is not a man of war or blood, who wastes his subjects' lives and treasures in contentions with neighbouring nations, in order to satisfy his ambition by the extension of his territory. On the contrary, his whole life is occupied in the distribution of justice. 3. He seeketh judgment. He seeks out the poor distressed ones who cannot make their way to him, and avenges them on their oppressors. 4. He hastens righteousness. He does not suffer any of the courts of justice to delay the determination of the causes brought before them: he so orders that the point in litigation be fairly, fully, and speedily heard; and then judgment pronounced. Delays in the execution of justice answer little end but the enriching of unprincipled lawyers.
We have heard of the pride of Moab-"We have heard the pride of Moab"
For ge, read geah; two MSS., one ancient, and Jeremiah 48:29. Zephaniah, ; Zephaniah 2:8-10, in his prophecy against Moab, the subject of which is the same with that of Jeremiah in his forty-eighth chapter, (See Clarke on Isaiah 15:1.) enlarges much on the pride of Moab, and their insolent behaviour towards the Jews:-
"I have heard the reproach of Moab; And the revilings of the sons of Ammon: Who have reproached my people; And have magnified themselves against their borders. Therefore, as I live, saith JEHOVAH God of hosts, the God of Israel: Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, And the sons of Ammon as Gomorrah: A possession of nettles, and pits of salt, And a desolation for ever. The residue of my people shall spoil them, And the remnant of my nation shall dispossess them: This shall they have for their pride; Because they have raised a reproach, and have magnified themselves Against the people of JEHOVAH God of hosts."
For the foundations of Kir-hareseth-"For the men of Kirhares."
A palpable mistake in this place is happily corrected by the parallel text of Jeremiah 48:31, where, instead of ashishey, foundations or flagons, nve read anshey, men. In the same place of Jeremiah, and in Jeremiah 48:36, and here in Isaiah 16:11, the name of the city is Kirhares, not Kir-hareseth.
Languish-"Are put to shame"
Here the text of Jeremiah leaves us much at a loss, in a place that seems to be greatly corrupted. The Septuagint join the two last words of this verse with the beginning of the following. Their rendering is: καιουκ εντραπησηταπεδιαεσεβων. For ach they must have read al; otherwise, how came they by the negative, which seems not to belong to this place? Neither is it easy to make sense of the rest without a small alteration, by reading, instead of εντραπησητα εντραπησεται. In a word, the Arabic version taken from the Septuagint, plainly authorizes this reading of the Septuagint, and without the negative; and it is fully confirmed by MSS. Pachom. and I. D. II., which have both of them εντραπησεται πεδιαεσεβων, without the negative; which makes an excellent sense, and, I think, gives us the true reading of the Hebrew text; ak nichlemu shadmoth cheshbon. They frequently render the verb nichlam by εντρεπομαι. And nichlemu answers perfectly well to umlal, the parallel word in the next line. The MSS. vary in expressing the word nechaim, which gives no tolerable sense in this place; one reads nochaim; two others bechaim; in another the caph is upon a rasure of two letters; and the Vulgate instead of it reads mecotham, plagas suas.-L.
For the men of Kirhares ye shall make a moan. For the fields of Heshbon are put to shame. This is Bp. Lowth's sense of the passage.
Her branches are stretched out-"Her branches extended themselves."
For nitteshu, a MS. has niggeshu; which may perhaps be right. Compare Jeremiah 48:32, which has in this part of the sentence the synonymous word nagau.
The meaning of this verse is, that the wines of Sibmah and Heshbon were greatly celebrated, and in high repute with all the great men and princes of that and the neighbouring countries; who indulged themselves even to intemperance in the use of them. So that their vines were so much in request as not only to be propagated all over the country of Moab to the sea of Sodom, but to have scions of them sent even beyond the sea into foreign countries.
halemu, knocked down, demolished; that is overpowered, intoxicated. The drunkards of Ephraim are called by the prophet, Isaiah 28:1, halumey yayin, drinkers of wine. See Schultens on Proverbs 23:25. Grotius, speaking of the Mareotic wine, says of it,
Pharios quae fregit noxia reges. CYNEG. 312.
With the weeping-"As with the weeping"
For bibechi, a MS. reads bechi. In Jeremiah 48:32, it is mibbechi. The Septuagint read kibeki, as with weeping, which I follow.
For thy summer fruits and for thy harvest is fallen-"And upon thy vintage the destroyer hath fallen."
veal ketsirech heidad naphal. In these few words there are two great mistakes, which the text of Jeremiah 48:32rectifies. For ketsirech, it has betsirech; and for heidad, shoded; both which corrections the Chaldee in this place confirms. As to the first,
"Hesebon and Eleale, and The flowery dale of Sibmah, clad with vines,"
were never celebrated for their harvests; it was the vintage that suffered by the irruption of the enemy; and so read the Septuagint and Syriac. heidad is the noisy acclamation of the treaders of the grapes. And see what sense this makes in the literal rendering of the Vulgate: super messem tuam vox calcantium irruit, "upon thy harvest the voice of the treaders rushes." The reading in Jeremiah 48:32is certainly right, shoded naphal, "the destroyer hath fallen." The shout of the treaders does not come in till the next verse; in which the text of Isaiah in its turn mends that of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 48:33, where instead of the first heidad, "the shout," we ought undoubtedly to read, as here, haddorech, "the treader."
Neither shall there be shouting-"An end is put to the shouting"
The Septuagint read hishbeth, passive, and in the third person; rightly, for God is not the speaker in this place. The rendering of the Septuagint is πεπαυταιγαρκελευσμα, "the cry ceaseth;" which last word, necessary to the rendering of the Hebrew and to the sense, is supplied by MSS. Pachom. and I. D. II., having been lost out of the other copies.
When it is seen that Moab, nirah, a MS. reads raah, and so the Syriac and Chaldee. "Perhaps ki nirah is only a various reading of ki nilah." SECKER. A very probable conjecture.
Within three years
beshalish keshalish, according, or in or about three years, is the reading of nine of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS., and two ancient editions.
But the present reading may well stand: "Now, the Lord hath spoken, saying, Within three years, as the years of a hireling." It seems as if this prophecy had been delivered before, without any time specified for its fulfilment; but now the time is determined-"in three years, as the years of a hireling"-for, as a hireling counts even to a single day, and will not abide with his employer an hour beyond the time agreed on; so, in three years, even to a day, from the delivery of this prophecy, shall destruction come upon Moab. This is the import of the present text; but if we take keshalish, AS in three years, or in about three years' time, the prophecy is not so definite.
These three years, says Calmet, are mentioned from the death of Ahaz, see Isaiah 14:28, and end the third year of Hezekiah, three years before the taking of Samaria by Shalmaneser. This conquerer did not ruin Moab so completely as not to leave a man in the land; the final desolation of Moab was reserved for Nebuchadnezzar, five years after the taking of Jerusalem.
Feeble-"And without strength."
An ancient MS., with the Septuagint, reads velo, "and not."